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tv   [untitled]    May 26, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT

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>> the evening and welcome to this evening's meeting of the commonwealth club of california. you can find this on the internet at commonwealthc lub.org. you can read us online at sf gate.com. now it is my pleasure to introduce our special guest, mayor ed lee. a few months ago, if you
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mentioned his name, they responded with the question -- "who the hell is ed lee?" unless you're connected to san francisco politics, you would not know he served four mayor's and he had very powerful friends like former mayor willie brown san francisco's often fractured board of supervisors could not agree on at the mayor, then they agreed on the compromise -- ed lee. the board approved him ten to one, and they do not approve of anything ten to one. who is he? his mother was a seamstress. his father died when he was 10.
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he was so poor, he and his siblings would scrounged around in the basement for something to give each other for christmas. in one box, there would be an old shoe. in another one, a shoelace. he won a scholarship to bottling college in bowdoin college in maine. he returned to the bay area to attend ucla berkeley law school, before working for the city government, first as an investigator in the whistle- blowers department, and a few decades after california passed laws forbidding agents from -- asians from owning land, he became the first chinese- american mayor. now his mustache has its own
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twitter feed. i feel badly for the audience, because they can only hear the mustache. it is truly awesome up close. his predecessor, gavin newsom, was famous for the amount of here joe he used. please welcome mayor ed lee. [applause] mayor lee: thank you. should i stand up here, joe? is this right. ok. thank you out, everybody. at it is my pleasure to be here, to share with you what it has been like for the first quarter, maybe a third of this year, but also to begin by telling you this is a very unique city. and i continue to be so enthralled by the wonderful people who live here, that work here, even though i finished the
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ninth of tin budget town hall meetings, numerous meetings with community-based agencies, inviting people who have not been there for years, as they tell me. i am hearing so many stories, stories about white people came to san francisco. and just -- about why people came to san francisco. and just so many stories about whether or not their dreams or conditions were fulfilled, or they are here working were living with their families or they are trying to conduct business here. it has been wonderful. a lot of people have been asking -- i really -- to i really enjoy it? the word " julyenjoy -- "enjoy"
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is a little strong. i set out on a commitment that i would do this for a year. i made a commitment i would try my best to unify the city and then set out to do at least five priorities. at least one of them has been fully accomplished, but the five priorities were budget, balancing the city's budget. we still have a $306 million gap. pension reform, which i will talk about later. we have the america's cup, getting that off the ground. then we have my and placement of local hire and what that means for the city. and finally, i was thrust upon with the obligation to make sure that i selected a police chief, not a temporary police chief. a chief that will carry forth what i consider to be one of the most important things in this city, to secure the public safety of the great city of san francisco.
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i think i have done that, with the selection and now the appointment of the chief. so many people have come up to me and clearly you expected a chief who had spent 30 years in his life, but i did not realize how many people he has really known in every part of this community. they come up and they thank us for making that wonderful decision. you will see right off the that, if he will be a great partner to make sure our police force and all the public agency facilities work together and we produce a higher level of public safety in the new year. i set out for a number of these objectives to perform those things in the most non-political way and to give it my full,
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150% attention. that means to not be distracted by other offices or what i would be willing to do. today, i will tell you i will be perfectly happy to be perhaps one of the first mayor's that ever comes back to his city job, the job i got paid a lot more for. but also, the job i was appointed to, city administrator, because that has been wonderful for me, to administer the affairs of a great city, and to know it is made up not only of numerous, wonderful neighborhoods, not only a high number of attractive commercial and residential corridors, but also the city i have come to appreciate even more as mayor, a city that is international in stature. one that resonates with so many people across the world.
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it is about what we represent. and that representation is not easy to explain at times,, but it begins with a very prominent after it, and that is because our city is so diverse. i am a product of that. i will continue to make sure the doors are open to anyone who wants to serve this great city, anyone who wants to show their love for it. i will continue doing that. it is because of its international stature, our city of san francisco enjoys being the attraction for the whole bay area. when companies or visitors are deciding where they want to spend their money or make an investment or have a good time, they will think of san francisco in some any positive way is because we have allowed ourselves to evolve as an international city. that is so important. so many cities are trying to
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protect their coffers and investments, to be the city that they are. i want to continue being the city that people hoped for us today, to put a positive aspect of hope in the city. that means today and it will mean for some time that my administration reflects a strong effort to create and sustain jobs for everyone. if i have learned anything in my visits throughout the city it is that everybody wants to get a job. they want to be here. they want to sustain themselves year. they know how expensive it is. i know how expensive is. i made one of the biggest, most nervous financial commitments buying a house here in my whole life here that was when mayor willie brown ordered me that if i wanted this job, i had to move into the city. i bought a couple of times, because finding a 3-bedroom
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house in the city was an enormous task. i did it well my kids were jumping up and down on the bed, saying "we are going to disneyland. we are going to disneyland." because their vision of san francisco was a place of play, a place where their eyes are open everywhere they go, they can get the culture and the arts, all the wonderful things we have invested in that make this city successful. jobs continue to be the thing i am trying to do in this city. it will resonate in all the decisions i make. it is the responsible thing to do for any major city now. whether or not we consider ourselves a local city, our regional city, an international city, it is job creation that makes the city run well. for all of us here, i know you have great hope that the city
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will be able to have decent jobs here that can maintain, that they can spend a good amount of their careers in, and that is why i spend a lot of time with chief adviser kim and supervisor david chiu and the other supervisors talking about how we can sustain the midmarket. that is why we passed a week ago the midmarket payroll tax exemption. we wanted to welcome new companies into the city and understand what it was blocking their ability to stay and to grow. to hear a company -- not just from the cfo, from the president. when i visited twitter, i closed the door and they allowed me to speak to their engineers, to their workers, to the people doing the engineering work atwitter.
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as we closed the door, i laid out -- ok, kids. what do you really want out of the city? in very plain language, they said, "mayor lee, we like the culture of the city. we like the local restaurants. we like that we can work here for an odd number of hours and we wanted to be safe. we want to make sure we can ride our bikes to work. 25% of them ride to work. they have bike racks on every floor of the building. they also said they wanted us to expand the experience of bicycle riding, to make sure the city was green. all the young engineers -- they, too, said they loved the diversity of the city." that gave me a clear indication that is for the next generation
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of workers in the city, people who will build in the street, and then to realize what twitter and companies like that have done all over the world, being a conduit for some many events that have occurred, even the latest event that has occurred. they wer still part of that. twitter was feeding information to the whole world about what was going on. and to have that product, that name-brand he suggested as a san francisco homegrown products -- we have not heard "made in san francisco" for a long time, have we? it used to be garland. to have an engineering, technology product sounds unique to me, with potentially 4 million users across the world. keeping a company like that, that will grow their employees from 350 to the expected 3000 in the next couple of years will be
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a fabulous contribution to the change we expect in the market. that is what we are trying to do and we're seeing implications of that happening already. i wanted to let you know, my last conversation with the assurance team group -- shorenstein group, they are about to spend $80 million retrofitting even before twitter spends its money, which will be around $15 million renovating the space that they need. that is a million-dollar, plus another $20 million -- that is an $80 million commitment in the first year. i think that is a great indication. now we are seeing smaller businesses will be attracted. a burger place will be opening
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in august. i just had lunch with a commissioner at a cafe on sixth street. wonderful place. we will have a police substation on six straight. that will be open by the end of this year, early next year. we already have a commitment from our new chief of police that it will be staffed. there are a lot of things happening that will change the face of midmarket. again, it is job creation, jobs. there are so many other things we are doing that are job- creating. clearly, america's cup, very exciting. will produce the people's plan to move 200,000 people every day in 2013 towards the latter part of that year. we are excited about that. the people's plan has been put on the web site. it is already interactive with people who have ideas. we will be sharing that with the
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mayor of oakland and the mayor of san jose, getting their input, because the america's cup has never been about san francisco. it is about san francisco as part of the region, welcoming one of the graces -- degraded -- the greatest races in the world. we would love to continue posting it in an item -- hosting it ad infinitum. that would be great. we have the budget before. the fight's over what to save and what not to save have become the brunt of many jokes about the city. in getting the budget into a more serious situation. i am bringing before you a copy. the first copy of the press. it is a new book. "a 5-year financial plan for the
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city and county of san francisco." i am trying to change the way we talk about the budget, so we approach it from a more solid financial planning instrument. not just trying to fill holes and argue about each year's gap, but to suggest to you, there is financial stability if we plan for financial stability. all of you know that. you know that from your old way of conducting your own lives. i have known that, too. as a city administrator, when we introduced the 10-year capital plan, and we started telling departments, we are no longer satisfied, we need to put this in priorities, because in order to keep the promise to the system that we will not increase taxes and still views are bond programs responsibly, -- and still use our bond programs response of, we have to do it.
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i am no longer satisfied, and none of us should be, about the annual budget. it should be five years of budget planning, put into discipline, make sure we have goals set out, and built according to that plan. that is how we get to financial discipline. that is how we have to approach pension reform. i will be before you and the general public with the hope that we have only one pilot rejectballot -- ballot measure before you, to have one plan before you this fall that will tell you how we're going to correct the cost overruns of our pension and health costs to our employees and make sure we are on our road that no longer interferes with our general fund to the tune of $125 million, as
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it is doing this year. again, a lot of time spent on the finances of this city, and i get to do it in the most non- political way. if there is anything i can say that is fun, it is fun to talk to people without having to create new provinces -- promises, and maybe fulfilling once we have had. making the city safe, solvent, and finally, the other principal i shared with the department of the budget -- making the city continue to be successful. that goes back to what brought you to san francisco? what need to invest? it is because of the diversity. it is because we have a very excited counselor for. we are all working together to
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bring in the sister cities and make sure we have excitement as a world-class international city, because with that comes the interaction of culture, more business, and the learning of what other countries are doing. and just the hope that because we signed the united nations charter here, that we continue that dream, that san francisco becomes the place where we continue to dialogue and we can suggest we can still have that international dialogue here. that, along with the perverse -- diverse corridors of the city, that is part of being a successful city. i want to continue that. to continue to have us face -- a safe, soldan, and successful city. and i can do that in a non-
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political way. i think the unprecedented dialogue with the board of supervisors, that we can get agreements, not yell at each other, not take some much political positions that are for san francisco. i think you for this time and i would be very willing to answer questions tonight. [applause] >> thank you. before we talk policy and the city stuff, i want to talk a little bit more about growing up in seattle. the fourth of six kids. tell us about the way you grew up, hal is shaped who you are now? mayor lee: i do not talk much about it because it was a hard life. we grew up in housing projects
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in seattle. we struggled. we were a large family. my dad was a cook. my mom was a seamstress. so, kind of typical for a lot of asian immigrant families. i had the unfortunate episode of my dad dying when i was in high school. so we literally had to be on our own. six kids, one long, full time seamstress. we struggle and sacrifice and we learned how to enjoy life. that is how you get these stories about our little christmases. we actually had a lot of fun wrapping up presence in the basement. i remember that. because i was in the middle of the pack, my older brothers got everything. they got to play football. they got to do a lot of things
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american kids wanted to do. we ended up -- my younger sister come in under brother -- we were the last three in the family. we cleaned up the house. i did all the gardening in the house. we did all those things. those things that we had to do. we had to keep up. we worked hard. i worked in restaurants in my early days. i got a call to go to this great college that was recruiting people from the west coast. my history teacher, i will never forget him. he said that i was not made for the university. university of washington was where everybody went unless they got lucky and went to harvard or yale. about put on the waiting list for some of those. i did try. -- i got put on the waiting list
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for some of those. i did try. this little university was willing to give me a four-year scholarship. i took a risk. it was one of the best decisions i made. it was one of the best experiences i had come up being in one of these small liberal arts colleges. it was completely on the opposite side of the world. >> you were one of the few asians there. there was a bristly joke -- bruce lee joke. >> do not talk to my wife. she has these pictures of me in college. my hair was down to here. they did not know what i was. i had a mustache, long hair, big glasses. you cannot tell if i was russian or indian. [laughter] you have to ask. i got a lot of those questions. when people found out i was
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chinese, and was one of five on campus. there was a lot of ignorance about chinese-americans on the campus. i had two jokes. i was either bruce lee's brother or a descendant of robert e. lee. [laughter] whenever i got really patriotic, robert e. lee. [laughter] that is how i got into college. [laughter] i used that opportunity in those four years to allow my mind -- i loved studying. it was one of those places where you can read books come interact with professors -- read books, interrupt with professors. none of my class is had more than 10 students at a time. they could interact with you. that was the most welcome ing
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part of the college experience. >> you said you are here on a part-time or temporary basis. you do not want to be mayor. you want to have your old job back. it pays more. there are already several people running for mayor. you have until august to make a decision. what if some of your powerful friends came to you and said they did not like to was leading in the polls invite you to run, would you consider it then? >> they have already done that. as powerful as they are, i have been very polite in telling them that i think it is neat to have a mayor go back to helping the city in a different way. if i have a time now where i can change some things so that there is a more unified thought
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process in the city, perhaps the standards, actions, and dialogues are more open and we help change the economic and business climate in the city to support the things i have talked about already -- i can help to carry those things out. i do not think you have to be mayor to do it. i understand the power of the mayor's office. i feel i will exhibit my best contribution while this time is here. i will do my best and hopefully will have left with a positive legacy and stay here to help carry some things out. >> how do you deal with the lame duck thing? >> by not quacking. [laughter] i am working on things that need so much attention that there is no such thing this year as lame
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anything. people want to continue the dialogue about how to get things done. this so much to do. -- there is so much to do. i set out these five priorities. i feel like we will get to many of them in a positive way. there are so many other things coming that were not part of the agenda. mid market and other places are going to happen. they need constant attention by somebody who can pay attention to it. the person who cannot pay attention to it is the person running for another office. the person who can pay attention is someone who has set aside everything and said they're going to pay attention. that is what i want to do in whatever capacity i have. the midmarket payroll tax thing has caused other businesses to has caused other businesses to come forward.